Through its design and pedagogy, Helen Keller Elementary School seeks to instill its 320 K-5 students with Helen Keller’s voracity for learning and curiosity with the world around her. Inherent to Keller’s design is the school’s cultural heart and mission statement: Growth, Respect, Integrity, and Perseverance - traits of its namesake’s character that the school aspires to pass on to its students. Just as the sensation of water fi nally engaged Keller with her surroundings, tactile artwork, sign language instructions, and oversized Braille dots in common areas and on exterior planters encourage students to read, touch, and interact with their surroundings. Keller’s inspirational quotes fl ank students’ paths to classrooms wings, each with identifying themes that challenge students to be thoughtful citizens in their school and community. Sited in a residential area and thoughtfully placed on the site, Keller’s exterior expression complements the surrounding context. A large canopy at the main entrance reaches towards the neighborhood, inviting students, parents, and neighbors into the community “living room” - a vibrant, light-fi lled space that serves as a meeting place for parent and school bus entries. The library was strategically perched on the second-story above the living room, providing vistas to the neighboring Edith Multan Park and visibility to the activity below. Organized by grade level, four “learning settings” composed of classrooms clustered around shared instructional areas facilitate individualized attention and enhance studentteacher relationships. Identical access and transparency between classrooms and the shared area allow teacher supervision, while wireless technology, modular furniture, tackable surfaces and fl exible partitions support multiple programs and group sizes. Operable glazing walls between the commons, living room, and science/art classroom create a multi-use commons space appropriate for a variety of school and community functions. Bright colors and large graphics bring fun and depth to durable materials. Critical in the planning process with the school district, Keller’s sustainable design strategies create a healthy place for children to learn and grow: a highperformance building envelope system, extensive use of glazing and skylights, a displacement ventilation system, a mechanical heat recovery system via heat exchanger, a 50KW rooftop photovoltaic array, and site preservation and water management strategies, including preservation and relocation of existing trees and maintenance of wetland buff er. A warm and welcoming building that achieves a cheerful human scale for students and the surrounding residents, the school aims to inspire and support students as well as its community of parents, staff , and neighbors.
Owner LAKE WASHINGTON SCHOOL DISTRICT
Owner’s Consultant HEERY INTERNATIONAL
Architect BLRB ARCHITECTS
Civil Engineer AHBL, INC.
Structural Engineer PCS STRUCTURAL SOLUTIONS
Hardware Consultant ADAMS CONSULTING & ESTIMATING
Kitchen/Food Service HALLIDAY ASSOCIATES, INC.
Mech / Electrical Engineer BCE ENGINEERS
Landscape Architect THOMAS V. RENGSTORF AND ASSOCIATES